The game of Texas Hold’em has been all the rage in the poker circles for many years now, with Pot Limit Omaha recently coming in as a favorite alternative for many players.
However, the truth is that we have all played thousands of hands of these poker games, and many players out there are looking for ways to shake things up.
The word poker is a common denominator for more games than you can imagine, many of them very different from traditional poker games you are probably used to.
If you are sick of playing the same variations over and over again, here is a list of some crazy poker games you probably haven’t played so far that you can play in your home games and spice things up.
Some of these fun poker games are similar to the traditional games, you know, while others are very different and will take some growing accustomed to.
Either way, these poker games will completely change the way you see poker and potentially reignite your love for the game in general.
Let’s start out with one that’s very easy to learn for all the Texas Hold’em players out there.
1. Short Deck Hold’em
Unlike many other crazy poker games on this list, you may have actually seen this one on TV before, as the popular Triton Poker Series is all about Short Deck Hold’em.
Commonly referred to as Short Deck Poker as well, this is one of the easy poker games to learn if you already know how to play Texas Hold’em.
The big difference comes from the fact that all low cards, deuces through fives, are removed from the deck. This leaves a deck of only 36 cards, which makes for a lot more action.
In Short Deck Hold’em, flushes beat full houses because they are more difficult to get, and all players pay an ante before the flop, with the button paying double ante. There are no blinds!
Other than these things, the game is played in the same way as traditional Texas Hold’em. Yet, these few differences make the game very different and more action-packed.
If you are looking for some crazy poker games to add to the mix and make your home game more interesting than Short Deck Hold’em should certainly be near the top of your list.
2. Pineapple Poker
Another version of Texas Hold’em, Pineapple Poker, is a very fun and action-packed game that adds a fun twist to the traditional variation.
In Pineapple Poker, all players are dealt three hole cards before the flop, unlike the traditional two cards one gets in Texas Hold’em.
From here, you must discard one of your three cards, picking the combination you want to play with.
In traditional Pineapple, you must discard your third card before any action happens.
However, the game is also played in two other variations, which are the Crazy Pineapple and the Lazy Pineapple. The big difference is when you throw away your third card.
In Crazy Pineapple, the third card is discarded by all the players in the hand after the flop is dealt, which means you have three cards to work with before the flop.
In Lazy Pineapple, the third card is only discarded after the river action, which means you can’t use it at showdown, but can make more hands by the river.
In either case, Pineapple falls into the category of crazy poker games that can make players start talking to themselves for folding the wrong card and having made the nuts with the card they threw away.
The great thing about Pineapple is that it’s one of the easy poker games to learn if you are already a Texas Hold’em player, as there are so many similarities between the two.
3. Irish Poker
Irish Poker is yet another interesting poker variation that somewhat resembles Pineapple Poker and is a fun mix between Texas Hold’em and Pot-Limit Omaha.
In Irish Poker, players are dealt four cards to begin with and must discard two of their cards after the flop action is all wrapped up.
Going to the flop with four cards gives you many options, and the strategic decision on which two cards to throw away is the key one you make in every hand.
Irish Poker is usually played as a pot-limit game simply because it has so many similarities with Pot-Limit Omaha, a game that would become quite the circus if played as no-limit.
All gameplay in Irish Poker is the same as PLO or NLH, barring the fact that all players must surrender two of their cards after the flop betting is completed.
Irish Poker is one of the more fun poker games to play in your home game and introduce your friends to, especially if you are all looking to have some fun and drive the action.
4. Boston Poker
Another fun variation of poker that most players aren’t quite used to is Boston Poker. Boston is a variation of Five Card Stud, with elements of Texas Hold’em.
In a hand of Boston, each player is dealt five hole cards in total. However, one community card is dealt in each round as well, for a total of nine cards for every player.
Like in most poker variations, every player must make a five-card hand of poker. However, two separate hands can be made in Boston, one for the high and one for the low.
The high and the low hand split the pot at the end, which means there are countless possibilities to represent various hands, bluff your opponents, and actually make good poker hands.
Boston is one of those crazy poker games that few players actually know how to play properly. This can make for a ton of fun and a lot of confusion during gameplay.
A good reason to play Boston in your home game is that there won’t be anyone who is much better than anyone else, and most players will be guessing as to the best way to play their hand.
Here is where things start to take a real turn down the wild road. Cincinnati is a silly poker game that’s often played with different rules in different places.
In this poker variation, each player is dealt five hole cards, along with four community cards that are exposed one at a time. Players can agree to play limit, pot-limit, or no-limit, although pot-limit is the variation that makes the most sense.
In Cincinnati, it is very common for wild cards to be introduced.
This means the dealer can choose any card to be wild before the hand starts or declare one of the community cards wild before exposing it.
This declaration makes all the cards of that rank into wilds, not just the single card on the board. This way, everyone has a chance of making a monster hand by the final card.
Cincinnati is one of those home poker games that are often played with unique rules in every game, and there is no telling as to the number of different rules you can introduce to make the game play even wilder.
6. Death Wheel
Here is an absolutely crazy poker game that regular poker players often get a kick out of playing, simply because it is so much different and engaging.
In Death Wheel, every player is dealt a total of four hole cards, along with a total of six community cards dealt one at a time. Like in Omaha, players must use two hole cards and three community cards to make their hands.
However, there is a catch! The community cards in Death Wheel are dealt in a circle, and you must use three community cards adjacent to each other to make your hand.
Additionally, the game is normally played as hi/lo, which means you will need to make a hand that’s good for both the high and the low part of the pot to scoop it all.
The action in Death Wheel can get quite fast and furious. Every new community card adds some excitement, and there are many strategic elements to be aware of.
The number of cards in play and the way dealing is done also tend to create a lot of variance, which makes this one of the more fun poker games to add to the mix and liven things up.
7. Low/High Chicago
Not all crazy poker games are completely out of the ordinary, and Low Chicago is certainly one that falls into the category of the more normal games with special rules that stir things up.
This game is played more or less the same way as Seven Card Stud, with one-half of the pot going to the best poker hand in accordance with the standard poker hand rankings.
The other half of the pot, however, goes to the lowest (or highest in High Chicago) spade card out there, regardless of any other cards.
This means that getting dealt the deuce of spades in Low Chicago guarantees you half of the pot, and you can build that pot up and try to make a hand to win the other half as well.
This may take away from the skill element of the game in part, but it also adds an interesting dynamic where holding a certain card gives you a tremendous advantage over your opponents, especially if they are needlessly splashy.
The game of Low Chicago used to be the favorite of poker champion Phil Hellmuth in his early years. He often spoke about it with fond memories in interviews in the years since becoming a poker celebrity.
8. 2 and 22
Now here is a poker game that doesn’t really resemble any of the traditional poker variations we know today, and that will be a big novelty in any poker circle.
In 2 and 22, players are dealt two cards to start out, one face-up and one face down. Aces count as 1 and 11, while all face cards count as ½, and other cards count for their face value.
The goal of the game is to come as close to 2 or 22 as possible, with the two splitting the pot.
A round of betting is played after the initial cards are dealt, after which players can stand pat or request another card.
Once a player has stood pat three times, they cannot request any more cards, and their hand is locked.
Since there is a betting round between every drawing round, there are many opportunities to make your value bets or bluffs on many streets.
Getting dealt two aces at the start gives you both 2 and 22, which is the absolute nuts. Your only goal with aces is to make the pot as big as possible and scoop it in the end.
However, in all other scenarios, you will be left between keeping a reasonable hand or continuing to draw to improve upon it, which makes for many different options.
While 2 and 22 is far from a solved game with a perfect strategy, it is the one that will give you and your friends plenty to think about and will make for some hectic poker action.
I mentioned that Low Chicago was the favorite poker game of Phil Hellmuth, but what about his good friend and competitor Daniel Negreanu?
Well, apparently, Daniel was a great fan of a poker game called Vanunu as a young man, which is an absolutely crazy version of poker that you won’t find in any casino around.
In Vanunu, each player is dealt a total of seven down cards. They are then turned over one by one until only two cards remain face down. Betting rounds happen between these turns, building up the pot.
The game is usually played hi/lo, but players must also declare whether they are playing for the high or low part of the pot or trying to scoop.
The rules of Vanunu are a bit convoluted, so it may take you some time to play the game perfectly. Yet, once you get the hang of it, Vanunu is an incredibly fun poker game that will keep you and your friends occupied for many nights.
Another poker version that’s actually available in some online poker rooms and played in some high-stakes poker games, Badugi, is a version of draw poker.
In Badugi, players start out with four hole cards. There are three drawing rounds, during which players can choose to discard as many of their cards as they want.
The ultimate goal is to get four cards of different suits and the lowest ranks possible. The best hand in Badugi is A234 rainbow, and any rainbow hand is called Badugi.
This variation may not be as silly or exciting as some others crazy poker games on this list, but it is certainly a game that will generate a lot of action and add some flavor to your poker nights!